Human Rights: Canadian youth take action

(NC) — In this era of social media, instant messaging and blogs, it's reassuring to know that letter-writing is flourishing and being used to make a difference for a better world.

At Amnesty International, individual letter-writers remain the backbone of the organization's ongoing work to protect and promote human rights. For more than 50 years, former political prisoners around the world have expressed how much letters to the authorities help.

However bleak the situation, the actions of individual letter-writers can make a difference. Pressure from letter-writers often leads to improvements where the prisoner is kept—and the solidarity shown by letter-writers keeps hope alive. Amnesty tells us that hope is an important weapon for prisoners battling to survive. Sometimes the letters result in a prisoner being freed and reunited with their family.

The organization even issues special letter-writing actions called Lifesavers for young activists aged 10 to 15 years. An information package is available by emailing The actions are written in simple language and sometimes request an appeal on behalf of other young people. Graphic details of ill-treatment or torture are omitted.

Jabbar Savalan was one young person who benefited directly from letter-writing. The 20-year-old student was jailed in Azerbaijan after logging onto Facebook and calling for peaceful protests against the government. His case was made the focus of an Amnesty letter-writingaction. People in homes and schools across Canada sent messages to the authorities in Azerbaijan, asking them to free Jabbar. “It feels good to be with my friends again,” he said after his release. “I feel good now that I can spend time with them and my family.”

Lifesavers are popular in schools and can be a valuable activity for grandparents and grandchildren to do together. Students of English as a second language also use Lifesavers to practise their language skills.


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